Although investment activity in the past business year increased to EUR 943.9 million, it once again became apparent that implementation of the Group’s growth strategy is not related to a deterioration of key debt figures. As of the end of the business year 2013/14, the gearing ratio (net financial debt in percent of equity) is 45.8%, only slightly below the figure as of March 31, 2013 (44.5%).
In a year-to-year comparison, net financial debt increased by 6.5%, going from EUR 2,259.2 million in the previous year to EUR 2,407.1 million in the current reporting period. This is due, on one hand, to the aforementioned high level of investment activity and, on the other, to an increase in net working capital (increased interim inventories due to forthcoming blast furnace repairs). The solid operating results strengthen the Group’s equity base even further. In concrete figures, equity rose by 3.7% from EUR 5,075.3 million as of March 31, 2013 to EUR 5,261.0 million as of March 31, 2014.